Monday, January 22, 2007

Orphan of the Sun

Harvey, Gill. 2006. ORPHAN OF THE SUN. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 1582346852 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

Meyrt-re is an orphan living in the ancient city of Set-Maat where the workers lived who built the pharaoh’s tombs. She lives with her paternal aunt and her stern and stingy uncle who has arranged a marriage for her to get her out of his house. She is thirteen years old. Unwelcome and tortured by her cousin, Meyrt-re has the gift of sight which further confuses and isolates her. However she is lucky to have two good friends, Dedi, the beautiful daughter of the foreman for the tombs and Kenna, a poor boy who seems to have eyes only for her best friend.

Having contributed to various non-fiction endeavors, this is Gill Harvey’s debut novel with ancient Egypt as the setting. The novel is well researched and Gill includes many details of the everyday life, religion, and economy of the ancient Egyptians. However, it is also an exciting, well-paced mystery that keeps our attention and catapults us toward the exciting climax.

Ms. Harvey includes a map of the area and an extensive glossary to help readers to better understand the world Meyrt-re lives in. Gill sprinkles names of gods and rulers like we are members of this ancient society. Once readers get used to using the glossary and get a handle on the special vocabulary, reading is fast-paced and exciting. The novel is well worth the work.

Invite students to continue the story of Meyrt-re and Kenna. How might it be possible for them to get married?

Other novels set in ancient Egypt:
Lester, Julius. PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER. ISBN 0152018263
McGraw, Eloise Jarvis. MARA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE. ISBN 0140319298

By Cay Geisler

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